More than three weeks after they were last seen, police have brought in recovery dogs in the search for two men in the Tongariro National Park.
Police earlier said the operation had entered a recovery stage, however have since contacted the Rotorua Daily Post to clarify that.
"While the recovery dogs are being used, we are not classing it as a recovery phase but still a search and rescue operation," a police spokeswoman said.
Hakopa Ngaronoa, 26, and Vincent Taurima, 21, have been missing since August 12, after they failed to stop for police on the Desert Rd.
They were in an allegedly stolen car.
After dumping the car on Tree Trunk Gorge Rd, they ran into Tongariro National Park and have not been seen since.
The national dive squad, police dogs and search and rescue volunteers made up search crews which at one point numbered more than 100 people, but the men have not been found.
Yesterday the search entered a new phase, said Senior Constable Barry Shepherd.
"Three victim recovery dogs and their handlers from Auckland began searching in the park along with local police and SAR volunteers.
"This search continues today."
All information gathered through the search will be re-assessed, leading the way forward for the search, he said.
Police remained determined to bring the men home to their whanau and friends.
Throughout the search the ongoing support from Ngati Tuwharetoa had been invaluable and was greatly appreciated, Mr Shepherd said.
Police Iwi Liaison Officers are continuing to support the families.
Taurima's uncle, Hedleigh Balloch, was still in Turangi with a small group of close family.
Extended family for both men had been staying in Turangi since the start of the search, but their numbers had thinned out, Mr Balloch said.
"Everyone's pretty much gone, it's just the close ones who haven't given up on him."
He said though Taurima was a gang member, he was also a person like everyone else with family who loved him.
"I'll never give up," Mr Balloch said.
The 22-year-old, who had been living with Taurima for the past year and a half, said he felt for his nephew's son TJ, 1.
They were close despite the fact TJ mainly lived with his mother in Hastings.